This project is an attempt to pull together several of my interests into one baggy monster; I hope you find parts of it to your taste as well. The various facets are:

American Literature

I earned my MA in American Studies from Purdue University in 1993. And though I ran screaming from academia, I’ve never lost my love of literature. Hawthorne and Melville were my main interests, but the dark lady of Amherst has always intrigued me as well; I see her, like Hawthorne and Melville, as a subtle dissident from Transcendentalism.

Her evocative, epigramatic, sometimes gnomic verse lends itself well to this sort of game.


I’ve maintained a photoblog for a couple of years now; it flies under the radar, but I’ve kept at it. Often I’ve used photographs to illustrate poems by Browning, Tennyson, Wordsworth, and Keats, and a few moderns as well. This project lets me repurpose some of my pictures and bring them perhaps to a new audience.

Modular Web Components

Pictures and poems don’t put food on the table at my house. It’s tinkering with computers that keeps the family fed. My main focus at work is Java portlets and SOAP services; I’ve got a thing for modularity, and have built up a veritable IKEA of code. When I started looking into Google’s gadget API, I was intrigued; Daily Dickinson is partly an excuse to publish a gadget.

What to expect…

from me

Every day, until I run out of poems, pictures, or patience, I’ll post an Emily Dickinson poem. The text will be from the Project Gutenberg Dickinson, checked against a print copy of the Complete Poems where appropriate. A photograph in that poem’s spirit will come along for the ride.

Some commentary may be included as well, if the poem warrants it. Don’t expect close readings or fanciful deconstructions or elucidations of the signified and the signifier; I’ve lost those brain cells to Guinness and Diafine and XML. I hope to offer thoughts that won’t detract from the poems, that clarify some obscurities (if they need clarification), or that offer a personal reaction.

No, I won’t help you with your term paper.

from you

Visit when you can, enjoy the pictures and the poems, leave a note. If you’re moved to buy a card or a book, then thank you very much! But if not, that’s fine; this sort of project is a cheap enough hobby, and clearly not a revenue stream.

If you like what you see, leave a comment or drop a line. Constructive criticism and hosannas are both gladly accepted here.

Thanks for visiting!

Michael Hartford

6 thoughts on “About”

  1. The internet continues to amaze me. You’d think I’d have learned by now that I can find anything about anyone or anything. I love your “About..” although I don’t understand all the computer references. I do know IKEA! I haven’t yet figured out how to get Emily sent to me every day, automatically. Or do I need to go to this site daily?

    I studied Emily at S.U.I. , as it was then…the State Univ. of Iowa in Iowa City…back in the olden days when I walked three miles to school in snow up to my knees. She was my favorite poet then, in 1949-50, and still is. I am so glad you are doing this. I used to attempt her style of verse…back then in those old days.

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A daily poem from the complete works of Emily Dickinson.